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Great tips for travelers who journey with their pets

As the summer months approach and vacation plans get underway, increasingly Americans are taking an additional family member on trips… their pet

As the summer months approach and vacation plans get underway, increasingly Americans are taking an additional family member on trips… their pet.

According to statistics from a recent State of the American Pet Survey conducted by the Purina Pet Institute, almost one-third of pet owners (31 percent) have taken their pet on vacation. Although dogs hit the road more often with their owners (45 percent) 16 percent of cat owners have also been accompanied by their pet. Although America continues to become more pet friendly, traveling with a pet in tow requires some special considerations. To ensure a comfortable and safe trip for our feline friends and canine companions, the Purina Pet ahead of your trip:

1. Make sure your pet`s vaccinations are up-to-date.

2. Be certain your pet is wearing an identification tag giving his name,

your name and home address and telephone number including the area code.

3. Take pictures of your pet and write a description of his colorings, weight, body size and distinguishing marks. Bring these photos with you — this information will help if your pet gets lost.

4. If the mosquito season begins earlier or ends later in the area you will be visiting, make sure to administer heartworm medication.

5. Refrain from feeding your pet for at least three hours before leaving on your trip.

6. Provide your pet with some exercise before you start to drive. Pack your pet`s water and food bowls, grooming equipment, food, health and rabies certificates and any heartworm or other medicine he may need.

7. Make sure your pet is accustomed to riding in your car. Begin with short rides each day and gradually increase the length of each ride before the big trip.

8. If your pet is unable to adjust to short rides, a responsible sitter or a boarding kennel or cattery is preferable. Make reservations in advance.

While traveling by car, bus or rail

1. For safety reasons, place your pet in a carrier. If a carrier is not feasible for your dog, use a restraining harness. Never put a carrier on the sunny side of the car.

2. Provide fresh drinking water and snacks for your dog or cat throughout the trip.

3. If the drive is eight hours or longer, gives your cat the opportunity to use a litter pan three or four times or stop so your dog can eliminate.

4. Do not leave your pet alone in a closed car on a hot day.

5. Always put your dog on a leash (and harness and leash for a cat) before letting him out of the car. If you walk your pet on the highway at night, both of you should wear reflective strips.

6. Feed your pet shortly after you arrive at your destination or when you have stopped for the day.

While traveling by airplane

1. Try to avoid peak travel periods when delays and stopovers are longer.

2. When making airline reservations for your pet, always check to determine their policies regarding pets. Some airlines allow cats and small dogs to travel with their owner if the carrier fits under the passenger seat.

Airlines may also have specific regulations regarding pet travel in cargo.

3. On the day of the flight, provide your pet with some exercise before leaving for the airport.

4. Put a cushion or blanket on the crate floor. Make sure your pet has access to water in his crate during the flight.

5. Pick your pet up promptly at the end of the flight.

6. If traveling overseas, ask your travel agent or the consul of the country you plan to visit about quarantines.